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APRILIA RACING TEAM GRESINI – MotoGP Japan Qualifying

FOURTH TIME IN QUALIFYING FOR ESPARGARÓ AND HIS RS-GP TO START FROM THE SECOND ROW AT MOTEGI TOMORROW

NEVER BEFORE HAS APRILIA BEEN SO FAR FORWARD IN MOTOGP
ESPARGARÓ: “WE ARE CONTENDERS FOR THE TOP POSITIONS”

In qualifying, Aleix Espargaró confirmed the qualities demonstrated in free practice. On the Motegi track he took the fourth best time, coming just 44 thousandths from a brilliant first row and now he is one of the protagonists for the race tomorrow. After an excellent Friday (second in the first free practice session and third in the second), Aleix easily went straight through to Q2 where, as he has done throughout this Japanese round, he battled with the best for the top positions, proof of the competitive level he has reached.

In the decisive session, characterised by a damp track with some dry spots, Aleix took advantage of the confidence gained on his Aprilia and stopped the clock at 1’53.947 on his decisive lap, earning the fourth spot and the second row of the starting grid for tomorrow. Never before in MotoGP history has an Aprilia started so far forward. This is a result that rewards Aleix’s talent and the hard work of the Italian Racing Department who, throughout the season, have developed the RS-GP, the youngest bike on the entire grid.

Sam Lowes paid the price for the conditions of the Japanese track, difficult to interpret as it began to dry out. However, even though he was not able to reap the benefits of the work done yesterday in the wet, he improved compared to recent races, finishing in 18th place to earn a spot on the sixth row of the starting grid.

ALEIX ESPARGARO’
“I am definitely satisfied, not only with the qualifiers, but with the entire weekend so far. We have been competitive in every session and we showed that we have a great pace in the wet. Qualifying was demanding. The track in mixed conditions is certainly not the optimum situation for us. In any case, I was able to earn a good starting position, the best for Aprilia in MotoGP, and for this I must thank the entire team. We need to keep going like this. As for my choice of tyres if the track is very wet, that is not a problem. I hope it rains tomorrow because in those conditions we demonstrated that we can be extremely fast and consistent. If we look at the practice sessions, we are in the group contending for the top positions, but on Sunday anything can happen. A lot of riders who are having difficulties today, like Rossi and Viñales, will be in the game for the race.”

SAM LOWES
“Unfortunately, qualifying was the worst session of the weekend for me. Especially because the conditions were intermediate and I still lack experience with the MotoGP bike. In FP3 I made a mistake on my last flying lap which would have let me go straight through to Q2, whereas in qualifying we decided not to change the tyres and, seeing how our rivals did, that definitely cost us a few tenths. In any case, we worked well in view of the race. If we have a wet track tomorrow, it would not be unrealistic to aim for a top 10 finish.”